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Oil Rig Workers: High Risk of Injury

It’s no secret that oil rig workers spend their days in highly dangerous conditions—in fact, this is easily one of the most dangerous occupations in America. According to the Washington Post, personnel in the gas and oil industry are about seven times more likely to be killed on the job than the average workman.1

Even so, the general public isn’t fully aware of the extent to which these hardy workers place themselves in bodily danger on a daily basis. On an oil rig, hazards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What’s more, these threats can develop with alarming swiftness, placing personnel in a life-and-death situation in the blink of an eye.

If all that weren’t bad enough, oil rig workers often find little support from their supervisors and bosses, who frequently decline to report on-site injuries or safety lapses for fear of incurring the wrath of regulators. Many employees understandably believe that they may be reprimanded or even fired for complaining about on-the-job hazards. As a result, unsafe conditions can persist needlessly, until a major incident develops.

Let’s take a closer look at the ways that oil rig personnel can—and, tragically, sometimes do—become seriously harmed or even killed while on the job.

 

Explosions

An explosion is one of the most lethal types of accidents that can occur on an oil rig. Luckily, it’s a fairly uncommon occurrence but it does happen. In a lot of these incidents, evident safety hazards were tragically overlooked until it was too late.

That was true for the infamous Deepwater Horizon incident on April 20, 2010, which resulted in the deaths of eleven men, as well as untold environmental damage as several million barrels of oil were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion was caused by a sudden surge of natural gas through the concrete core of the oil well.

Explosions can lead to major repercussions beyond the initial impact of the blast. When an explosion occurs on an oil rig, it can easily ignite gas and chemicals in the area, sometimes sparking a huge conflagration that endangers the lives of everyone on the premises. Due to the presence of highly flammable materials on oil rigs, this sort of incident is always a possibility that any on-site safety plan must account for.

 

Falling

Oil rig workers can spend a significant portion of their shift way up in the air, on elevated platforms or other raised surfaces. For obvious reasons, this is a risky practice. Harnesses and related safety gear can help ensure a reasonable level of safety for personnel who must work under these conditions, but equipment failure and plain old mistakes still leave them vulnerable to harm.

The presence of chemicals on normal walking surfaces also poses a safety risk, and it’s easy for harried personnel to overlook the need to clean these up promptly. Worn-out guardrails and unmarked floor openings also create potential problems. A simple fall on an oil rig can cause severe injuries.

There’s another type of falling hazard: heavy objects dropping from overhead. Personnel can sustain major head injuries from wrenches, chains, and other bulky objects that haven’t been secured properly. That explains why the use of hardhats is standard in these environments—but, again, this is hardly a foolproof solution.

 

Dangerous Machinery

The kind of equipment used in these environments must extract, handle, and transport oil from deep in the earth, or provide valuable support to these activities. Oil rig workers often walk around platforms where heavy chains dangle just over their heads, where bulky materials must be loaded and unloaded, and where powerful pumps and compressors operate without regard for the safety of the human beings around them.

This is heavy-duty machinery, and anyone around it must exercise extreme caution at all times. They also should wear appropriate safety gear, such as earplugs (oil rig machinery can be extremely noisy), hardhats, and gloves.

Even with reasonable precautions, however, accidents do happen. Often it can be attributed to simple negligence on the part of the injured individual(s), but this is not always the case. Improperly maintained equipment may function incorrectly or even experience a sudden catastrophic failure, causing serious harm to personnel in the area.

Because oil rigs are usually in operation on a 24/7 basis, it’s a simple matter for supervisors to find an excuse to push back routine maintenance and inspections to a more convenient date, or ignore these issues altogether. Consequently, minor mechanical problems that ordinarily could be easily managed may eventually develop into major problems.

 

Dangerous Chemicals

Another serious health risk on oil rigs stems from all the toxic chemicals in the air due to the activities of drilling and processing machinery. Among these hazardous chemicals that commonly pollute the atmosphere in oil rigs is hydrogen sulfide, a flammable heavier-than-air gas that can trigger multiple health issues, especially relating to the central nervous system, in individuals who are exposed to it over long periods of time.

Exposure to hydrogen sulfide in high concentrations can lead to immediate loss of consciousness and death.

Aside from hydrogen sulfide, other types of potentially dangerous chemicals are often present in the form of fumes emitted by machinery; these can irritate the eyes and/or burn the skin. For personnel in these environments, it is standard practice to wear face and eye protection but the threat is always present.

 

Isolation

A lot of oil rig workers spend long days hundreds of miles from the nearest coastline. That in itself poses no particular danger—it’s just part of the job—but what happens when a serious safety hazard develops on the rig, like a fire breaking out? The safety risk associated with these incidents is compounded by the fact that oil rig personnel are in an environment that cannot be easily or quickly reached by emergency response teams.

 

Fatigue

Oil rig personnel can make a good wage, but there’s no doubt that they earn their pay. Many workers have to endure shifts that last twelve hours—and sometimes as long as eighteen or even twenty-four hours. Working twelve hours shifts for weeks at a time isn’t uncommon in this industry.

When you consider that these employees usually have to do their jobs not in comfortable air-conditioned offices but in hazardous conditions, and in frequently uncomfortable weather, then it’s hardly a mystery why this line of work rarely attracts couch potatoes. It’s an undeniably tough job.

Oil rig workers have to keep going well after the point where most of us have decided to call it a day and relax in front of the TV or laptop. What this means is that oil rig personnel can make serious errors as their shifts drag on and fatigue increases. Tired workers just aren’t as alert or as effective as they should be. In this type of environment, simple errors may lead to major—even life-threatening—consequences.

 

If You Need Help After an Injury

If you’ve been seriously injured as a result of an accident on an oil rig, you should reach out to the Maintenance and Cure team at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., to ensure that you have access to first-rate legal representation. We have many years of experience with all aspects of maritime law, including the Jones Act, DOHSA, LHWCA, Public Vessels Act, Maintenance and Cure, Maritime Piracy, Admiralty Extension Act, Military Sealift Command, and OCSLA. Our team has won millions of dollars in settlements for our clients, and we would be happy to hear from you. Contact us at your earliest convenience for a free confidential case evaluation.

Source

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/09/AR2010080904083.html
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Oil Rig Workers: High Risk of Injury

It’s no secret that oil rig workers spend their days in highly dangerous conditions—in fact, this is easily one of the most dangerous occupations in America. According to the Washington Post, personnel in the gas and oil industry are about seven times more likely to be killed on the job than the average workman.1

Even so, the general public isn’t fully aware of the extent to which these hardy workers place themselves in bodily danger on a daily basis. On an oil rig, hazards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. What’s more, these threats can develop with alarming swiftness, placing personnel in a life-and-death situation in the blink of an eye.

If all that weren’t bad enough, oil rig workers often find little support from their supervisors and bosses, who frequently decline to report on-site injuries or safety lapses for fear of incurring the wrath of regulators. Many employees understandably believe that they may be reprimanded or even fired for complaining about on-the-job hazards. As a result, unsafe conditions can persist needlessly, until a major incident develops.

Let’s take a closer look at the ways that oil rig personnel can—and, tragically, sometimes do—become seriously harmed or even killed while on the job.

 

Explosions

An explosion is one of the most lethal types of accidents that can occur on an oil rig. Luckily, it’s a fairly uncommon occurrence but it does happen. In a lot of these incidents, evident safety hazards were tragically overlooked until it was too late.

That was true for the infamous Deepwater Horizon incident on April 20, 2010, which resulted in the deaths of eleven men, as well as untold environmental damage as several million barrels of oil were dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. The explosion was caused by a sudden surge of natural gas through the concrete core of the oil well.

Explosions can lead to major repercussions beyond the initial impact of the blast. When an explosion occurs on an oil rig, it can easily ignite gas and chemicals in the area, sometimes sparking a huge conflagration that endangers the lives of everyone on the premises. Due to the presence of highly flammable materials on oil rigs, this sort of incident is always a possibility that any on-site safety plan must account for.

 

Falling

Oil rig workers can spend a significant portion of their shift way up in the air, on elevated platforms or other raised surfaces. For obvious reasons, this is a risky practice. Harnesses and related safety gear can help ensure a reasonable level of safety for personnel who must work under these conditions, but equipment failure and plain old mistakes still leave them vulnerable to harm.

The presence of chemicals on normal walking surfaces also poses a safety risk, and it’s easy for harried personnel to overlook the need to clean these up promptly. Worn-out guardrails and unmarked floor openings also create potential problems. A simple fall on an oil rig can cause severe injuries.

There’s another type of falling hazard: heavy objects dropping from overhead. Personnel can sustain major head injuries from wrenches, chains, and other bulky objects that haven’t been secured properly. That explains why the use of hardhats is standard in these environments—but, again, this is hardly a foolproof solution.

 

Dangerous Machinery

The kind of equipment used in these environments must extract, handle, and transport oil from deep in the earth, or provide valuable support to these activities. Oil rig workers often walk around platforms where heavy chains dangle just over their heads, where bulky materials must be loaded and unloaded, and where powerful pumps and compressors operate without regard for the safety of the human beings around them.

This is heavy-duty machinery, and anyone around it must exercise extreme caution at all times. They also should wear appropriate safety gear, such as earplugs (oil rig machinery can be extremely noisy), hardhats, and gloves.

Even with reasonable precautions, however, accidents do happen. Often it can be attributed to simple negligence on the part of the injured individual(s), but this is not always the case. Improperly maintained equipment may function incorrectly or even experience a sudden catastrophic failure, causing serious harm to personnel in the area.

Because oil rigs are usually in operation on a 24/7 basis, it’s a simple matter for supervisors to find an excuse to push back routine maintenance and inspections to a more convenient date, or ignore these issues altogether. Consequently, minor mechanical problems that ordinarily could be easily managed may eventually develop into major problems.

 

Dangerous Chemicals

Another serious health risk on oil rigs stems from all the toxic chemicals in the air due to the activities of drilling and processing machinery. Among these hazardous chemicals that commonly pollute the atmosphere in oil rigs is hydrogen sulfide, a flammable heavier-than-air gas that can trigger multiple health issues, especially relating to the central nervous system, in individuals who are exposed to it over long periods of time.

Exposure to hydrogen sulfide in high concentrations can lead to immediate loss of consciousness and death.

Aside from hydrogen sulfide, other types of potentially dangerous chemicals are often present in the form of fumes emitted by machinery; these can irritate the eyes and/or burn the skin. For personnel in these environments, it is standard practice to wear face and eye protection but the threat is always present.

 

Isolation

A lot of oil rig workers spend long days hundreds of miles from the nearest coastline. That in itself poses no particular danger—it’s just part of the job—but what happens when a serious safety hazard develops on the rig, like a fire breaking out? The safety risk associated with these incidents is compounded by the fact that oil rig personnel are in an environment that cannot be easily or quickly reached by emergency response teams.

 

Fatigue

Oil rig personnel can make a good wage, but there’s no doubt that they earn their pay. Many workers have to endure shifts that last twelve hours—and sometimes as long as eighteen or even twenty-four hours. Working twelve hours shifts for weeks at a time isn’t uncommon in this industry.

When you consider that these employees usually have to do their jobs not in comfortable air-conditioned offices but in hazardous conditions, and in frequently uncomfortable weather, then it’s hardly a mystery why this line of work rarely attracts couch potatoes. It’s an undeniably tough job.

Oil rig workers have to keep going well after the point where most of us have decided to call it a day and relax in front of the TV or laptop. What this means is that oil rig personnel can make serious errors as their shifts drag on and fatigue increases. Tired workers just aren’t as alert or as effective as they should be. In this type of environment, simple errors may lead to major—even life-threatening—consequences.

 

If You Need Help After an Injury

If you’ve been seriously injured as a result of an accident on an oil rig, you should reach out to the Maintenance and Cure team at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., to ensure that you have access to first-rate legal representation. We have many years of experience with all aspects of maritime law, including the Jones Act, DOHSA, LHWCA, Public Vessels Act, Maintenance and Cure, Maritime Piracy, Admiralty Extension Act, Military Sealift Command, and OCSLA. Our team has won millions of dollars in settlements for our clients, and we would be happy to hear from you. Contact us at your earliest convenience for a free confidential case evaluation.

Source

  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/09/AR2010080904083.html
Recent
Successful Cases
Maritime Injury Lawyers

Speak With A Maritime Lawyer Now
Calls Answered 24/7


Board Certified Attorneys

We are maritime injury attorneys that have recovered millions for our injured clients. We have always been a strong advocate for maritime personal injury victims and the families of those who are killed while working in service of a vessel or under the Jones Act law. Our concern is for the safety of those involved and helping their families find out the whereabouts and conditions of their loved ones.

These are some of the diverse groups of injured workers we have represented:

  • Jones Act seamen
  • Workers on oil rigs, offshore platforms and jack-up rigs
  • Crews and workers on barges, supply boats, tankers, freighters and other vessels

The list is by no means comprehensive. If you are unsure whether you qualify as a Jones Act seamen or whether you might be covered by other maritime regulations, it’s vital that you contact our maritime lawyers today to learn about your rights.

We have represented workers and their families in the following disasters:

  • Deepwater Horizon Disaster
  • M/V Jillian Morrison Explosion
  • Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. Barge B No. 125 Explosion
  • British Petroleum Texas City Refinery Explosion
  • Phillips 66 Refinery Explosion

The team of Jones Act attorneys and maritime lawyers at SMSH have over 100 years of combined trial experience. Contact our Jones Act lawyers today for a free, confidential case evaluation.

Why Hire the Worldwide Jones Act, Offshore & Maritime Injury Lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris?

The Jones Act and maritime injury lawyers at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris have spent more than five decades representing seamen, longshoremen and other maritime workers, and recovered millions of dollars for our clients. SMSH has always been a strong advocate for maritime personal injury victims and the families of those who are killed while working in service of a vessel. Our concern is for the safety of those involved and helping their families find out the whereabouts and conditions of their loved ones, as well as recovering the compensation they are entitled to for injuries, medical bills and other damages.

Here are some of the reasons why thousands of injured maritime workers have chosen Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris to represent their interests:

  • We have recovered over $620 million dollars for offshore and maritime workers, including recovery of $17.5 million in the largest Jones Act settlement ever paid by the United States government.
  • Each of our Jones Act attorneys and maritime injury lawyers has more than 25 years of experience, with total of more than 100 years of trial experience for the team.
  • Our maritime injury lawyers have represented clients in some of the nation’s worst maritime and refinery disasters, including: the Deepwater Horizon explosion; the M/V Jillian Morrison explosion; the Bouchard Transportation Co. Inc. Barge B No. 125 explosion; the British Petroleum Texas City Refinery explosion; and the Phillips 66 Refinery explosion.
  • As dedicated maritime injury and Jones Act attorneys, we understand the financial difficulties that families often face when a loved one is injured and unable to work. Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris offers interest free loans to assist our clients with day-to-day living expenses while waiting for the conclusion of their case.
  • Our attorneys provide assistance to maritime, offshore and port workers across the United States.
  • We have board certified Personal Injury Trial lawyers.
 

The Maritime Attorney Difference

Maritime and offshore accidents fall under a different set of laws than other personal injury or workers’ compensation claims. There are specific maritime laws that govern claims, including the Jones Act, the Longshoremen and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act and general maritime laws. To receive the full protections these laws offer, it’s crucial to have an attorney who understands the complexities of each. If you’ve been injured while working on a vessel, offshore or in one of the nation’s many ports, contact the Jones Act attorneys at Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer and Harris today for a free consultation.
Our experienced offshore injury lawyers have handled cases throughout the Gulf of Mexico coastal region of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, and represented clients from all 50 states of the United States. We have years of experience representing the crew working on inland waters such as the Mississippi River, Ohio River, Kentucky River, the Great Lakes, Lake Michigan, Lake Superior, Lake Huron, and many more. We have also handled cases worldwide in countries as far away as the Ukraine and Israel. We routinely represent clients from the Central American countries of Honduras, El Salvador, and Nicaragua. We have also made claims for clients from Columbia, Venezuela, Bangladesh, The Philippines, Romania, Croatia, England, Ireland, Spain, The Netherlands, Russia, China, Mexico, and Brazil.

Time is of the Essence

If you or a member of your family has been seriously injured or killed as the result of an offshore accident, please speak to a qualified maritime lawyer before talking to your employer or any insurance company or adjuster. If you work on a vessel, boat, barge, tanker, fishing boat, an offshore drilling rig or platform, or any other kind of ship, you may qualify for Jones Act compensation. Working in, on, or near water means you need the specially-trained legal assistance of the Board Certified maritime lawyers of Schechter, McElwee, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P.

A few small tidbits of advice for the injured offshore worker:

  1. Fill out an accident report or incident paperwork as soon as possible after your injury.
  2. If your employer gives you any paperwork to sign, have it reviewed by a competent maritime lawyer so you don’t waive your rights to more money.
  3. Do not give a recorded statement to anyone without first seeking legal counsel.
  4. Do not accept the word of a company doctor as to the extent of your injuries, seek out your own doctor for a second-opinion.
We are Worldwide Jones Act attorneys and Maritime lawyers with over 100 years combined experience in Maritime Personal Injury Cases and we have handled thousands of cases. Your initial consultation for your maritime accident case is FREE. You pay us nothing unless we win your case and get you money. Call a maritime lawyer NOW at 1-800-836-5830 or e-mail us at info@smslegal.com.

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